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Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha for Readers' Favorite
Festival by Chris Tomasini is the story of Peter who spends his summer in England, working as a porter at The Benjamin Hotel. Peter’s life is in a bit of emotional disarray. He cannot cope with the time that is slipping through his fingers. He feels like an intruder in his own home. Yet, amid his turmoil, he finds friendship with his co-workers, especially Anne. Each of them is a passing ship that will go its separate way by the end of the summer. And among these people and the river Thames, Peter finally feels at home. However, time is running out, and Peter is not ready to stop and be tethered.
This book blew me away; it was fantastic. I stared at the wall for a few minutes, thinking, and I might have cried a bit too. To begin with, the plot is not that complex. Its complexity lies in the emotions it portrays through its characters and their conversations. This book is more character-driven, and we follow Peter as he goes through his inner struggle with loneliness and his fear of love. The themes it tackles are loneliness, the sense of belonging, and the permanence and impermanence of love. The writing is enchanting. The writing evokes nostalgia for a place you have not even visited. The descriptions make you feel the summer. It makes you think that you are in an art movie. It has a cozy, warm feel to it. There is writing in coffee shops, midnight trains, and deep conversations. This book has some beautifully written quotes.
Additionally, the characters also leave an impression with different shades and sides. Chris Tomasini has successfully portrayed their struggles, desires, and thoughts within a few pages. The ending of the book left me heartbroken. I still have not made my peace with it. But the end somehow fits the story. I loved this book. I related to it on a lot of topics. I would recommend it to people who love character-driven books with deep conversations about the fragility and impermanence of love and a sense of loneliness.